How Builders Can Thrive In the New Normal
As residential construction ramps up again and many builders, remodelers, and contractors return to work, construction site health is a top priority. Clear municipal and federal guidelines have been implemented to ensure safety on job sites, including best practices like washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, sneezing and coughing into your sleeve, and not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. But there are also more stringent physical distancing measures in place that are harder to work around.
Custom projects involve a lot of people and moving parts, and a job site can be a high-traffic area with project managers, subcontractors, and clients coming and going on a regular basis. The onset of COVID-19 meant a near shutdown for many builders. Projects were put on pause and construction sites remained largely empty for much of March and April.
The latest stats from several research groups show a positive upward trend. Demand for new homes is 25% above pre-pandemic levels, even when seasonally adjusted (Source: Redfin). Despite the slow down in supply of new homes, the demand keeps increasing as local economies reopen and buyers come out in full force. The Meyers Research New Home Pending Sales Index (PSI) showed that pending new home sales continued the rebound that started in mid-April and posted a 16.7% month-over-month increase in May.
These are all good signs for custom builders and remodelers, but if COVID-19 has made anything clear about how the residential construction industry approaches technology, it’s that managing projects the old-fashioned way isn’t going to cut it. On the best of days, managing custom projects can be chaotic and overwhelming. You’ve got to manage budgets, schedules, selections, subcontractors, and clients.
Throw a global pandemic in the mix, and it’s clear that not all builders have what they need to manage their business remotely or quickly adjust to sudden changes on projects. Technology has enabled many builders to weather the storm successfully while those managing operations with manual, pen-and-paper processes may have been left behind.
Let’s look at the top five ways that technology can help custom builders and remodelers adapt and navigate the new normal:
1. Keep projects on track as schedules change
As local economies open, it’s important to keep in mind that everything isn’t back to normal yet. Things could easily change depending on public health and safety guidelines, which would mean quickly adjusting your schedules to reflect new milestones, timelines, and projected completion dates. Luckily, a construction project management tool like BuildTools with robust, easy-to-use scheduling can help you make those changes quickly and communicate them to the right people.
2. Understand your financials
One of the hardest things to manage during a project is money coming in and going out. Selections, bids, change orders, purchase orders—all these can have a huge impact on your budget. During slow periods and ramp-ups, it’s important that you know what your project budgets are and how much money you have on hand to manage your operations. Software like BuildTools provides financial information at a glance, so you know what you’re working with. It also integrates with QuickBooks® and Xero® so you can avoid the mistakes that come with double entries and manual data input.
3. Adjust selections and approve change orders
As vendors and suppliers run into issues with fulfillment due to COVID-19, you may have to adjust selections to keep your projects on track. New tile or flooring doesn’t mean your clients can’t have their dream home, but it’s important to communicate these changes quickly and get change orders approved to ensure updates are communicated to everyone involved, your budget is accurate, and your subs have what they need to get the job done. BuildTools comes with selections and change order modules that automatically adjust your budget and enable you to communicate updates to subs quickly to avoid costly errors.
4. Safely communicate progress with clients
Having to stay six feet apart can really put a damper on the custom-building process for your clients. They can’t necessarily stop by the job site to see progress in person, but you can keep them involved every step of the way with photos and weekly progress reports. The weekly reports include more than just photos, though. It includes everything that was completed that week as well as new and updated change orders that might require their attention, so your clients are up to date on the work being done without ever having to step on the job site.
5. Virtual communication with your team and subs
The best way to keep your crew and subs safe is to leverage virtual communication. Businesses across all industries are investing in remote working tools to help their teams communicate and the residential construction sector is no different. Say goodbye to separate conversations across phone, text, and email. BuildTools centralizes all communications in a unified inbox. You can see every message from anyone involved in a project and easily respond from within the app. You can keep your distance without losing sight of the project with construction project management.
Rise to the challenge with BuildTools
Your business doesn’t have to be put on hold because of COVID-19. With the right project management tool behind you, you can safely adapt to the new normal and continue doing what you love—building.
Visit the ECI blog for more information, tips, and best practices on adjusting to the new normal.